London, Nov 5 (UNI/Sputnik): Scientists at Oxford University have uncovered a gene that doubles the risk of a severe Covid-19 infection, according to a study published in the Nature Genetics journal.
The scientists carried out a genome-wide association study (GWAS), which identified a region of chromosome 3p21.31 as increasing the risk of respiratory failure during Covid-19 disease.
“We applied a machine learning and molecular biology platform for decoding GWAS hits and identified a relatively unstudied gene, LZTFL1, as a candidate causal gene potentially responsible for the twofold increased risk of respiratory failure from Covid-19 associated with 3p21.31,? the study, published Thursday, says.
According to the researchers, 60 percent of people from South Asian backgrounds and only 15 percent of Europeans carry the risk-bearing gene. This phenomenon partly explains the excess mortality in some areas of Britain.
Scientists warn that the LZTFL1 gene cannot be considered as a single cause of respiratory complications during Covid-19 infection, since many other factors, including the socioeconomic conditions, affect the process. For example, only 2 percent of people of Afro-Caribbean descent carry the risk-bearing gene but they have suffered from the pandemic just as much as other groups.
One of the leaders of the study, Professor James Davis, said that the increased genetic risk can be neutralized by vaccination, Sky News reported.